Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Engaging the Public in Technology Policy - A New Role for Science Museums

Bell, Larry

Journal Information:
Science Communication
Vol. 29, Num. 3


Bell writes here about the Museum of Science and its attempts to not only educate the public but also to determine the attitude people have toward the sciences they are viewing and learning about therein. The problem Bell sees is that the museum decided to expand its offerings to include technology and engineering alongside more traditional science exhibits, a worry because, without a clear pedagogical framework for exhibits about technology, the museums exhibits might devolve into commercial world fairlike displays that serve corporate promotional interests more than they serve the public good. Bell goes on to try to develop a clear pedagogy for informing the public about technology, specifically nanotechnology, paying special attention to the ethical dimension of creating this learning experience. The public was asked to become the informers in the forums on technology that Bell created, and while this took the onus off of museum workers for providing expertise, it also created a large source of data dealing with public perceptions of technology that Bell feels needs to be used to create future programs, though the question of who gets to see and use the results and how they might do so remains a difficult one to answer.